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“Hermione - who are you going to the ball with?” said Ron.

He kept springing this question on her, hoping to startle her into a response by asking it when she least expected it. However, Hermione merely frowned and said, “I'm not telling you, you'll just make fun of me.”

“You're joking, Weasley!” said Malfoy, behind them. “You're not telling me someone's asked that to the ball? Not the long-molared Mudblood?

I don't quite get what Malfoy truly means here. I think "that" in "asked that to the ball" refers to Hermione. But I'm not sure how to understand "Not the long-molared Mudblood?" correctly. I think "the long-molared Mudblood" also refers to Hermione, but I'm confused what it conveys exactly?

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There are several layers of insult going on here, as one would expect from Draco Malfoy. Let's go through them:

...someone's asked that to the ball?

Using that to refer to a specific human is inherently insulting. It's dehumanising, indicating that the person is an object or an animal. The proper pronoun to use here would have been her, but Malfoy is deliberately using that to insult.

"Not the long-molared Mudblood?”

"Not" in this context is used to express surprise, outrage, or denial. Again, this is an insult - Malfoy suggesting that it's incredible to believe that Hermione was invited. It's also phrased as a rhetorical question - a statement phrased as a question for effect or to make a point. In this case, while Malfoy is stating "I don't believe somebody would invite the long-molared Mudblood", he's phrasing it as if asking for confirmation, to suggest that such a thing is so surprising it needs to be questioned.

"Not the long-molared Mudblood?"

Hermione has always been described as having an overbite, a condition characterised by over-large front teeth. Malfoy is using her large teeth to define her in another insult.

His insult is also technically incorrect, since the molars are the back teeth used for chewing, not the front teeth that cause an overbite. However, it's done deliberately in this case. He's using alliteration, a poetic technique in which two or more words use the same beginning sound or letter - in this case long-molared Mudblood"

Not the long-molared Mudblood?

This, of course, is just the typical Malfoy insult that he normally levels at Hermione.

Overall then - Malfoy is implying that Hermione is not really a person but an animal or thing that he defines as a "long-molared Mudblood".

  • I can understand the sense easily when the sentence ends with "!", as in "Not again!". But in this case, it ends with "?", "Not the long-molared Mudblood ?”, which makes me confused. – dan Dec 20 '18 at 14:17
  • Your dentist tells you "I'm afraid I have bad news." You reply "Oh, no...not another cavity?" It's the same use, but because you're conversing with another person it ends with an interrogative. – Werrf Dec 20 '18 at 14:21
  • so, you will speak it in a rising tone? – dan Dec 20 '18 at 14:25
  • Correct. I think I misunderstood what you were unclear on, so I edited to include detail - it's a rhetorical question, a statement phrased as a question for effect, not for actual inquiry. – Werrf Dec 20 '18 at 14:31
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    No - it could be rephrased as "Do not tell me someone invited the long-molared Mudblood". The rhetorical question is addressing the previous sentence. – Werrf Dec 21 '18 at 23:06
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You are right on both counts - both those references are for Hermione.

Malfoy calls Hermione a "mudblood" because her parents are muggles. He means it in an insulting way.

"Long-molared" is yet another insult wherein he makes fun of her teeth.

Hence, the phrase "not the long-molared mudblood" is meant as an insult to Hermione, which is said in a surprising tone by Malfoy. He seems surprised by the fact that someone asked her out to the ball.

You might also want to read this.

  • Thanks! The part confused me more is "Not the long-molared Mudblood". Why 'not' is there? I think it might be an elliptical sentence.... Can you help me to understand it? – dan Dec 20 '18 at 13:09
  • Does it sound something like: one should not ask her to the ball because of the long-molared mudblood? – dan Dec 20 '18 at 13:17
  • I have updated by answer. "One should not ask her to the ball because of the long-molared mudblood?" doesn't make any sense. "Her" and "the long-molared mudblood" both refer to the same person! – CinCout Dec 20 '18 at 13:23
  • I'm still not quite getting it. Can you help to rephrase: "Not the long-molared Mudblood"? – dan Dec 20 '18 at 13:33

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